Despite the artificial lines dividing the world’s maritime regions, our ocean is a single, connected resource. From the fjords (“fee-awdz”) meeting the North Sea to the reefs encircling South Pacific Islands, the aquatic life sustained by our seas all share one global habitat and one future. That is why the Pacific Island Countries and Norway, while separated by over 15,000 kilometres, share a profound commitment to the health of our one ocean.
Norwegians and Pacific Islanders are oceanic peoples –– we have been for all of recorded history. As human-fuelled climate change has intensified, we’ve had a front row seat to its ravaging impact on the ocean’s health and –– as a result –– on the livelihoods of our citizens.
We know our climate and oceans are naturally linked, but there is still a great deal beyond our current understanding. We must meet those vast unknowns with complex and combined intellectual efforts, and we need the best and brightest minds of the Pacific enlisted in that academic pursuit.
From our seats on the Oceans Panel, Prime Minister Solberg, President Remengesau and I have long lamented the lack of Pacific Ocean’s experts –– from that mutual concern arose the Norway-Pacific Ocean-Climate Scholarship Project.
Minister Ulstein, please express to Prime Minister Solberg Fiji’s appreciation for Norway’s generous support of 24 scholarships for Pacific Island students to pursue the advanced study of oceans and climate change –– support valued at Six Million Fijian Dollars.
This new partnership, from the halls of Fiji’s University of the South Pacific and Norway’s University of Bergen, will cultivate the next generation of Pacific Island oceans leaders –– bringing together the experiences of our people with world-leading oceans and climate expertise.
As our ocean ecosystems buckle under the strain of a changing climate and reckless human abuses, we need young minds at the forefront of preserving oceanic food security, understanding how land activities impact coastal sustenance, leveraging traditional knowledge to secure sustainable livelihoods, and so much more.
We need ideas, borne in Pacific minds and backed by science, that can transform humanity’s relationship with the ocean and marine life. Thanks to the commitment of Norway, Fiji and our fellow Pacific Island Countries –– more young people across the Pacific can contribute to the cutting-edge science behind the oceans-climate nexus.
Vinaka and Thank you.